The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) took over the background investigation process from the National Background Investigations Bureau last October and has used the same billing rates for background investigations since fiscal year 2018, but there will be some modest changes starting in FY 2021. Here is the breakdown of current and future rates:

Current Rates FY 2021 Rates
Investigation Type Standard Priority Standard Priority
National Agency Check (NAC) $154 Unavailable $159 Unavailable
Tier 1 (T1) $194 Unavailable $198 Unavailable
Tier 2 (T2) $536 $660 $559 $604
T2 (with subject interview) $1,550 $1,674 $1,573 $1,618
Tier 2 Reinvestigation (T2R) $247 $348 $265 $286
T2R (with subject interview) $1,261 $1,362 $1,279 $1,300
Tier 3 (T3) $433 Unavailable $440 Unavailable
T3 Reinvestigation $417 Unavailable $424 Unavailable
Tier 4 $4,218 $4,555 $4,233 $4,571
T4 Reinvestigation $2,646 $2,858 $2,723 $2,940
Tier 5 (T5) $5,596 $6,043 $5,706 $6,163
T5 Reinvestigation $3,065 $3,310 $3,134 $3,385

Over the last three years Continuous Evaluation (CE) program efforts have cut down on the number of periodic reinvestigations (PR), which in turn has helped cut the investigation backlog down to 200,000 as of February 2020. With CE evolving into Continuous Vetting (CV), all of the deferred reinvestigations will probably become a thing of the past, and this is a good thing. Assessing potential issues in real-time rather than waiting for a PR every five years enables security managers to review and assess clearance eligibility and address problematic behaviors sooner.

It’s worth remembering these costs represent what individual agencies pay out to DCSA for the cost of an investigation. While government contractors incur the costs of running a personnel security program (facility costs, personnel to manage programs, and significant time and labor costs to ensure the protection of classified information), the cost of obtaining a security clearance falls directly to the government.

While many applicants ask if they can obtain or pay for their own security clearance, eligibility to access classified information comes at the behest of the government, and cannot be initiated by the applicant. There are a number of companies willing to sponsor a security clearance, and applicants are encouraged to search for positions where clearance eligibility, versus a current clearance, is required.

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Marko Hakamaa served in various military police positions with the United States Army worldwide for 22 years before retiring in 2006 as a Master Sergeant. Afterwards, he transitioned into the civilian workforce as a contractor background investigator for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before entering civil service as a Security Specialist in 2009.